Alex James: new farmers needed to increase British food production

In July cheesemaker Alex James called for more incoming farmers to meet Britain’s food production needs.

alex james cheesemaker musician

He pointed out that four out of five of Britain’s farms are family businesses – not all of them owned, many of them tenanted but with long leases that pass down from generation to generation:

“Those who grow up attuned to the lifestyle often leave school wanting to look after the stock and the land. But agriculture is a sophisticated and rapidly evolving science. Within living memory, the fields that I can see through my window were all ploughed by horses. Now combine harvesters as complex as battleships link to 21st-century satellite technology . . .

“There is plenty of support available for would-be agrarians. The Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester is again offering a one-year farming course – it was the major course in earlier days, attracting a group of young aspirant farmers who just wanted to get on with it.

“But if Britain is to meet the challenges of producing enough food for us all and continuing to protect the environment, the industry needs an influx of new people too, from farming and non-farming backgrounds. Estimates vary but a figure of 60,000 over the next 10 years was given on a BBC website.

The opportunities are tremendous – aspiring farmers just need a way in. Currently, 60% per cent of the food we eat in Britain is produced in Britain. Buying British is the easiest way to help them.

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One response to “Alex James: new farmers needed to increase British food production

  1. Richard Bruce: by email

    New people are needed in farming, true, but the Agricultural Wages Board has been abolished and with it the way to qualify for the various skills that gave them craftsman status and a right to wages above the State minimum.
    I loved my work in agriculture and reached management level on non-negotiable AWB wage levels, or below because special payments were never made despite the Board.

    But when people are injured in agriculture, one of the most dangerous occupations, the farmers’ insurers will fight to ensure that they are not properly cared for – and some are simply sacked. All too often gang masters provide the labour and there have been gross underpayments and deaths as in the Chinese cockle workers.

    These days school leavers are bright enough to know that they can earn many times higher wages for much shorter hours and guaranteed holidays in cleaner, safer work.

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